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The Return of Martin Guerre de Natalie Zemon…
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The Return of Martin Guerre (1982 original; edició 1984)

de Natalie Zemon Davis

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
1,1701912,846 (3.72)24
The clever peasant Arnaud du Tilh had almost persuaded the learned judges at the Parlement of Toulouse when, on a summer's day in 1560, a man swaggered into the court on a wooden leg, denounced Arnaud, and reestablished his claim to the identity, property, and wife of Martin Guerre. The astonishing case captured the imagination of the continent. Told and retold over the centuries, the story of Martin Guerre became a legend, still remembered in the Pyrenean village where the impostor was executed more than 400 years ago. Now a noted historian, who served as consultant for a new French film on Martin Guerre, has searched archives and lawbooks to add new dimensions to a tale already abundant in mysteries: we are led to ponder how a common man could become an impostor in the sixteenth century, why Bertrande de Rols, an honorable peasant woman, would accept such a man as her husband, and why lawyers, poets, and men of letters like Montaigne became so fascinated with the episode. Natalie Zemon Davis reconstructs the lives of ordinary people, in a sparkling way that reveals the hidden attachments and sensibilities of nonliterate sixteenth-century villagers. Here we see men and women trying to fashion their identities within a world of traditional ideas about property and family and of changing ideas about religion. We learn what happens when common people get involved in the workings of the criminal courts in the ancien régime, and how judges struggle to decide who a man was in the days before fingerprints and photographs. We sense the secret affinity between the eloquent men of law and the honey-tongued village impostor, a rare identification across class lines. Deftly written to please both the general public and specialists, The Return of Martin Guerre will interest those who want to know more about ordinary families and especially women of the past, and about the creation of literary legends. It is also a remarkable psychological narrative about where self-fashioning stops and lying begins.… (més)
Membre:mschaefer
Títol:The Return of Martin Guerre
Autors:Natalie Zemon Davis
Informació:Harvard University Press (1984), Paperback, 176 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
Valoració:****
Etiquetes:Impostor, marriage, trial, middle ages, 16th century, Martin Guerre

Detalls de l'obra

The Return of Martin Guerre de Natalie Zemon Davis (1982)

  1. 00
    La dona d'en Martin Guerre de Janet Lewis (PuddinTame)
    PuddinTame: The Wife of Martin Guerre by Janet Lewis is a biographical novel about Bertrande de Rols. The Return of Martin Guerre by Natalie Zemon Davis is a nonfiction account of the case.
  2. 00
    El blau viginal de Tracy Chevalier (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both books feature the problems of late sixteenth century Protestantism in France.
  3. 00
    Giovanni and Lusanna: Love and Marriage in Renaissance Florence de Gene Brucker (jcbrunner)
    jcbrunner: While Giovanni and Lusanna never approach Martin Guerre's judicial and marital problems, both are short and sweet micro histories.
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Es mostren 1-5 de 19 (següent | mostra-les totes)
The story of Martin Guerre is a thoroughly fascinating and compelling one. It speaks directly to such issues as duplicity, greed, power, manipulation, social pressures and constraints, and the significance of truth. It also highlights the limitations and imperfections inherent to every legal system.

Although the Martin Guerre case has been famous for centuries, there are a limited number of reliable original sources pertaining to the affair; many pertinent details are simply unknown and unknowable. This leads to the biggest and most glaring problem existing for this book…it simply should not be a book.

The mystery of Martin Guerre would make a fantastic in-depth article or essay, but there just is not enough factual material to make a full-length book. And here is where Natalie Zemon Davis’ work falters the most; it is chockfull of speculation and loads of irrelevant padding. Early on the reader will notice lists and lists of archaic place names that serve no valid purpose to the advancement of the narrative. The reader is also bludgeoned over the head with scads of personal and family names tossed around for no apparent reason. If Davis ran across an event, family, or person in the course of her research, she mentioned them whether they were significant to the story of Martin Guerre or not. She clearly needed anything she could find to stretch this one out to book length (note also the very wide margins!). All of this irrelevant minutiae routinely renders this book sheer drudgery. Nevertheless, most readers will find the story of Martin Guerre enthralling and worth the toil of plodding through the heavy-handed writing.

Martin Guerre is a 16th century Basque peasant living in the French village of Artigat. Barely past the age of twenty, Martin abandons his entire family, including his young wife and infant son, and disappears without a trace for a number of years. One day, a man identifying himself as Martin Guerre registers in the hostelry of a neighboring town. Word quickly spreads to Artigat, and this man is positively identified as the Martin Guerre who vanished so long ago. The prodigal Martin Guerre prospers in Artigat. He is accepted and almost universally admired by family, friends, and neighbors—until the day he decides to bring a lawsuit against his uncle, Pierre Guerre. As a result of the machinations of his angry and greedy uncle, Martin Guerre finds himself in court accused of being an imposter, and both the village and the family become divided. Found guilty locally, Martin is brought to trial in the Parlement of Toulouse where it looks like the judges will probably rule in his favor…until a one-legged man hobbles into the courtroom claiming that he himself is the real Martin Guerre.

Two universal truths resonate from the experiences of Martin Guerre. First, that justice is never blind. Second, that interpersonal relationships are based primarily on self-interest rather than altruism or affection. These are two harsh realities that make the plight of the ‘masquerading’ Martin Guerre all the more tragic and piteous; tragic also for the sisters and wife who eventually abandon him in favor of the ‘legitimate’ Martin Guerre—a man clearly not worth the effort.

The Return of Martin Guerre contains a brilliant gem of a tale; unfortunately the reader has to dig through a lot of detritus to find it. Ultimately, this book leaves behind far more questions than it answers. The only definite conclusion one can reach is that there will never be a satisfactory explanation or resolution for the strange case of Martin Guerre. ( )
  missterrienation | Aug 10, 2021 |
NA
  pszolovits | Feb 3, 2021 |
Interesting story, but kind of weird. ( )
  JoKlazinga | Jan 1, 2019 |
A lot of history focuses on the great – kings and princes, bishops and popes, inventors and scientists, explorers and generals. The Return of Martin Guerre instead is about a peasant family in 16th-century France. The story is interesting and author Natalie Zemon Davis does a good job with it. The basic story is astonishing but simple; peasant Martin Guerre has some sort of dispute with is father and runs away from his family, wife, and child. Some years later he returns, resuming relations with his wife and fathering more children. But he gets involved in family disputes again and an uncle claims he’s not Martin Guerre at all but an imposter. The village is divided; a local court takes up the case and decides yes, there is fraud and Marin Guerre is condemned to death. But the appeals court seems to think otherwise and they are just about reverse the decision when a grizzled, one-legged war veteran shows up with sufficient proof that he’s the real Martin Guerre; the imposter’s sentence is confirmed and he’s hanged after a confession and apologies to all concerned. Martin Guerre (the real one) and his wife are reunited and live – well, they live ever after.

Although it involved the lowly rather than the great, the case attracted a lot of contemporary and later attention; one of the jurists involved wrote a long description that became part of the standard French texts on marriage law. Davis takes the opportunity to explore all sorts of side tracks – the system of land ownership in the area, inheritance law, marriage ritual, clothing styles, religion (the Huguenots held that a women could remarry a year after her husband disappeared if she made a reasonable effort to find him; a Catholic woman remained married until there was unequivocal proof her husband was dead) and even sex life (Bertrande, the wife, claimed that there were certain secrets of their marriage bed that only the “real” Martin Guerre would know). That leads to something Davis doesn’t explore very much; why did Bertrande, who presumably knew which Martin Guerre was which, stick with the imposter for so long (she eventually did confess she was “deceived” – and took advantage of the fact “everybody knew” women were weak and easily duped).I can think of a number of reasons, and Davis speculates on a few – with the “original” Martin Guerre gone, Bertrande was in the limbo of being neither wife nor widow and of lower status in the village so having him return gave her more status than if she had simply remarried and allowed her to remain part of the relatively wealthy – for peasants – Guerre family.

Davis notes the villagers of Artigat still talk about the case as the most interesting thing that ever happened there, and that there are still distant sets of Martin Guerre relatives – both of them – scattered around. Fascinating; although it was written after the movie of the same name it’s not a “movie tie-in”. Davis was starting to research the case when she said “Wow, this would make a great movie” – then discovered and collaborated with a couple of French screenwriters working on the same story. Well illustrated (although all but one are general illustrations of peasant life in the 1500s rather than specific illustrations of the case); very well referenced and footnoted (although all the books in the bibliography are in French or legal Latin). ( )
1 vota setnahkt | Dec 29, 2017 |
In 1560 Jean de Coras, judge of the Parlement of Toulouse, found himself faced with an extraordinary case which had come up on appeal from the court at Rieux. A woman, Bertrande de Rols, claimed that the man with whom she had lived for four years was not, in fact her husband Martin Guerre, but an impostor. The husband himself denied the charges and claimed that his wife was being unwillingly coerced by his avaricious uncle, who hoped to get his hands on the family inheritance. This alone would have offered de Coras an intriguing case, but the complex tale of Martin Guerre presently developed an unexpected twist that elevated it into one of the most fascinating courtroom dramas in history. Natalie Zemon Davis’s reconstruction is a classic of modern historical writing, offering an irresistible glimpse of the social and sexual mores of the Renaissance...

For the full review, please see my blog:
https://theidlewoman.net/2017/11/27/the-return-of-martin-guerre-natalie-zemon-da... ( )
  TheIdleWoman | Dec 16, 2017 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Natalie Zemon Davisautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
Ginzburg, CarloEpílegautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Lombardini, SandroTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat

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The clever peasant Arnaud du Tilh had almost persuaded the learned judges at the Parlement of Toulouse when, on a summer's day in 1560, a man swaggered into the court on a wooden leg, denounced Arnaud, and reestablished his claim to the identity, property, and wife of Martin Guerre. The astonishing case captured the imagination of the continent. Told and retold over the centuries, the story of Martin Guerre became a legend, still remembered in the Pyrenean village where the impostor was executed more than 400 years ago. Now a noted historian, who served as consultant for a new French film on Martin Guerre, has searched archives and lawbooks to add new dimensions to a tale already abundant in mysteries: we are led to ponder how a common man could become an impostor in the sixteenth century, why Bertrande de Rols, an honorable peasant woman, would accept such a man as her husband, and why lawyers, poets, and men of letters like Montaigne became so fascinated with the episode. Natalie Zemon Davis reconstructs the lives of ordinary people, in a sparkling way that reveals the hidden attachments and sensibilities of nonliterate sixteenth-century villagers. Here we see men and women trying to fashion their identities within a world of traditional ideas about property and family and of changing ideas about religion. We learn what happens when common people get involved in the workings of the criminal courts in the ancien régime, and how judges struggle to decide who a man was in the days before fingerprints and photographs. We sense the secret affinity between the eloquent men of law and the honey-tongued village impostor, a rare identification across class lines. Deftly written to please both the general public and specialists, The Return of Martin Guerre will interest those who want to know more about ordinary families and especially women of the past, and about the creation of literary legends. It is also a remarkable psychological narrative about where self-fashioning stops and lying begins.

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